Overcoming Stigma and Violence Against Incarcerated and Drug-Using Women

Women who use drugs, and women incarcerated and formerly incarcerated for drug offenses, face high levels of stigma, discrimination and violence, as they are seen as defying their assigned roles in society as mothers and caregivers. Women who use drugs face daunting barriers in accessing harm reduction and treatment services, and gender-sensitive programs remain an exception rather than the norm. As a result, they are at higher risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis C, especially while incarcerated. Formerly incarcerated women face significant obstacles in rebuilding their lives. From the time of their arrest until their release, women’s— especially trans women’s—journeys through the criminal legal system are marked by experiences of systemic violence, discrimination, and trauma. This side event will discuss the most pressing issues faced by women who use drugs and incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women, with accounts of lived experiences from the United States and Mexico.

Event recording available in English and Spanish.

The Impact of Global Drug Policy on Women: Shifting the Needle

The Impact of Global Drug Policy on Women: Shifting the Needle

A new publication, The Impact of Global Drug Policy on Women: Shifting the Needle​​, ​​analyzes the disproportionate impact of failed international drug control policies on women. Approaching these issues through a feminist lens that is often absent in the conventional literature, this new volume addresses the lack of attention to the experiences of women, detailing the challenges women face in accessing appropriate treatment and services, the stigmatization and marginalization resulting from engagement in illegal drug markets, and the punitive sentences imposed on women for drug-related offenses. Co-editors Julia Buxton, Giavana Margo, and Lona Burger have brought together a unique group of authors that includes academics, activists and those with lived experiences.

The ebook edition of this title is Open Access and freely available here. The printed version is​ available for purchase here

The event recording is available here.

COVID-19 and the Global Fight Against Mass Incarceration

COVID-19 and the Global Fight Against Mass Incarceration

The COVID-19 pandemic has led governments to release an unprecedented number of people from prison and curb new admissions to prevent deadly outbreaks in prisons and other detention centres. The pandemic has exposed the societal costs of mass incarceration, while the quick actions taken by governments casts doubt on the necessity of imprisonment for those released. This webinar will look at the drivers of mass incarceration worldwide, sharing analysis on the impact of COVID-19, the negative impacts of imprisonment exposed by the pandemic, and the challenges and opportunities it provides for sustainable reform. It will particularly focus on the role of punitive drug policies in driving up prison numbers. Global trends show that 1 in 5 people in prison are incarcerated for drug offences—constituting just over 2 million and almost half a million are serving sentences for drug possession for personal use. Punitive drug policies also disproportionately impact the impoverished and the most marginalised people in our societies.

Activists and researchers from different regions will discuss and share strategies by civil society to reverse this long-standing trend of mass incarceration as a response to crime. What strategies for action have been effective during this pandemic? What drug policies need to change in order to address high levels of incarceration? How can we ensure that short-term prison releases mark a shift towards long-term structural reform and an end to mass incarceration?

Watch the event recording here.